🔵 Mental wellbeing is worst among early stage musicians
And that's before all these remuneration changes pass more money up to bigger artists....
Hi there -
A new study of mental health among UK musicians, detailed in full by Music Ally below, concludes that the highest rates of negative mental health occurred among students and those not yet working as a musician.
“This suggests the need for dedicated support for those at the very early stages of a musician’s career,” says the report.
I couldn’t help but read this with my mind drifting to the recent remuneration changes being introduced at DSPs, and the discussions around the impact that might have on early-stage, emerging artists.
Now, granted, connecting the two is something of a leap here, especially as these remuneration changes have yet to come into effect (at Spotify anyway, I’m not sure about Deezer). However I still feel it does not reflect well on the industry as a whole, when the people found to be struggling most with their mental health are the ones who are perhaps working toward or just in the process of breaking into a “making meaningful money” kind of position.
As I have said before, where Deezer’s royalty amends are concerned the bigger issue was how this current milestone figure of 1,000 plays might rise in future, and who that might be affecting. Spotify’s changes certainly feel positive in the sense of preventing fraud and white-noise-type albums from chewing into royalty share. However, it could also be argued that it is also taking money from those at the bottom to hand to those closer to the top.
I do like the proposal Mark Mulligan makes in his latest post (below), suggesting that instead of taking this money and giving it to those at the top, Spotify might instead take those sums and turn them into some kind of fund for greater good - e.g. supporting specific artists in their development. After all, in the grand scheme I think Mulligan is right that the numbers here, when you break them down, don’t actually make for a meaningful uptick for any one artist. Yes, that “$1 billion more for artists” headline makes for a lovely read, but when you then break that down among all those receiving that money, and compare it to the total revenues that artist makes currently, it is a tiny percentage.
On the whole though, I feel this does raise a question over how artists are breaking through and what that’s potentially costing them along the way. I’m sure someone will point out that the road has always been littered with casualties of trying to make it big in music, some of whom suffered enormously. I don’t feel that justifies or excuses the grim results of Help Musicians’ survey. It is surely an alarm bell that everyone needs to be taking as something of a wake-up call.
Have a great weekend,
🎶 listening to “Voice Crash” by Hodge. Tough to describe this; it’s somewhere between post-dubstep and techno; a full on beat assault including sirens, undulating bass and an almost tribal rhythm going on. Intense, but amazing. Discovered via’s Spotify playlist (for subscribers to his excellent Substack!)
📺 watching “Jack Stratton Mixing Masterclass (Trailer)”. Vulfpeck teaching mixing? Sign me up! (Especially whilst its 25% off on Black Friday)
Stories from the Music Industry:
“The highest rates of negative mental wellbeing by career stage are reported amongst students (41%) and those not yet working as a musician (41%). This suggests the need for dedicated support for those at the very early stages of a musicians’ career,” added the report. This leads into one of the key points made by the report: that low mental wellbeing causes musicians to leave the industry – possibly before they’ve had a chance to realise their potential.
👆🏻Hot take: see my comments above.
“It’s in the AI industry’s interest to make people think that only the big players can do this — but it’s not true,” Newton-Rex says. “You might need to get a little inventive. You certainly have to do some negotiations and be willing to spend the time. But ultimately, what we call training data — and what is really human creative output — is a resource for tech companies. They need to work to get that in the same way they need to work to get any resource.”
👆🏻Hot take: I’m keen to see what Newton-Rex does next, as certainly the OpenAI developments in recent days suggest a serious need to bring AI development to heel - including around copyrighted works.
Another concern for the company is a legal action filed against the company and its founder and investment adviser Merck Mercuriadis. Filed by whom? By the liquidators of Hipgnosis Music Limited. That’s a company of which Mercuriadis was a director, which was wound up in 2018 shortly before he founded Hipgnosis Songs Fund. The legal action is being taken by the liquidators on behalf of the company’s creditors.
👆🏻Hot take: I fear as time drags on, Hipgnosis will become the poster child for how not to handle catalogue as an asset class, particularly in the Wall St realm.
How about we take the proposed system and instead of dividing into micro payments for everyone, just target it at one small group of emerging artists with potential. Turn it into an artist development fund rather than an inverted redistribution of wealth. That way the money can be put to really good use, investing in the very part of the market where the money came from in the first place.
👆🏻Hot take: this is an excellent idea IMO. Turn this all into something far more positive!
The most viable commercial strategy for any artist in today’s music business is to build their own fan community. Get anyone in the middle to either help you or get the fuck out of the way. Build the community - My Morning Jacket has One Big Family. The National has its army of Sad Dads. Why waste your time and resources on anybody else except those who are interested and want to be part of the world you are creating. And there is your manifesto for quiet legend!
👆🏻Hot take: you might subtitle this “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” but I’d argue it’s a philosophy we’ve taken with the likes of Run The Jewels, aiming for long-term wins rather than quick chart successes that vanish the following week.
Stories from the Broader World of Tech:
Ahead of OpenAI CEO Sam Altman’s four days in exile, several staff researchers wrote a letter to the board of directors warning of a powerful artificial intelligence discovery that they said could threaten humanity, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters. The previously unreported letter and AI algorithm were key developments before the board's ouster of Altman, the poster child of generative AI, the two sources said. Prior to his triumphant return late Tuesday, more than 700 employees had threatened to quit and join backer Microsoft (MSFT.O) in solidarity with their fired leader.
👆🏻Hot take: it’s tough not to read this without a creeping sense of dread. If ever there was a moment to call a complete halt to all AI development whilst regulation catches up, I’d argue this is it.
Christopher Manning, the director of Sanford’s AI Lab, is slightly more charitable than — but in agreement with — Giansiracusa in his assessment: “The newly formed OpenAI board is presumably still incomplete,” he told TechCrunch. “Nevertheless, the current board membership, lacking anyone with deep knowledge about responsible use of AI in human society and comprising only white males, is not a promising start for such an important and influential AI company.”
👆🏻Hot take: the more I read about Sam Altman’s return, the less positive I feel about it. The all white male board is just the tip of the iceberg, suggesting the general direction OpenAI may go in is not likely to be an ideal one.
Elon Musk said that X, formerly Twitter, will start showing headlines in preview cards with URLs on the platform again after removing titles last month. In a post on X, Musk said in an upcoming update, the company will overlay the title in the upper portion of the image of a URL Card. He didn’t mention any specific timeline for rollout or give an example of what might the card look like.
👆🏻Hot take: I guess we should at least credit Musk for recognising when something clearly was not working…
Need something else to read? Here you go:
AI can let you lie with photos. But you don't want a photo untouched by digital processing.
👆🏻Hot take: a fascinating walk through the pros and cons of AI-assisted photography and the wider questions around the use of it, especially relative to where said photo is being shared.
They’re entertaining, of course – but research highlights a deeper psychological reason viewers are drawn to the bad guys
👆🏻Hot take: a great walk through the psychological aspect of why it is we root for the antiheroes. More interesting that it might sound!
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